BOXING is a funny old sport where reputation and politics are far more important than ability or titles.

Don’t believe me? Well how else do you explain the fact that Bernard Hopkins gets to dictate his next fight?

We are apparently supposed to feel excited or grateful that Golden Boy Promotions have announced Hopkins’ return to the ring (after a one-sided defeat last time out) on March 9 in New York.

His opponent, according to Golden Boy, will be Beibut Shumenov, Tavoris Cloud or our own Nathan Cleverly. Or, as they are otherwise known, the current world champions at light heavyweight.

You what? In Hopkins’ last four fights he’s lost, endured a no contest, won controversially and drawn. And yet here he is, aged 48, with apparently every major titleholder queuing up for a chance to fight him. What an absurd situation.

It’s all credit to Nathan Cleverly though for a job very nicely done on Saturday night.

He might have been out at 5pm and performed in front of about 10% of the Staples Center crowd, but the live TV audience – and replay audience – will have enjoyed Cleverly’s display, it was eye-catching. More so, the presence of Tom Jones and Mickey Rourke ensures it will have got a little casual interest which can never do a fighter any harm.

Cleverly is more than deserving of bigger and better fights in 2013, I just hope he doesn’t have to jump through any hoops to get Hopkins. It really should be the other way around and that goes for any non-champion.